Hype is a sly beast. He stalks the internet and, every so often, leaps from the shadows to prey upon unsuspecting movies. His latest target is The Lego Movie and, for once, the barnstorming hype train may well be justified.
Any expectation built up by the dream-team cast had been tempered by the pungent whiff of shameless franchise cash-in, but I couldn't have been more wrong.
While the film is still very much a celebration of all things Lego, it manifests itself in the form of welcome life lessons about creativity and individualism. Even when our lead character starts making rousing speeches about how great everyone is, the film’s already done more than enough to win us over.
For one, it looks incredible and the exquisite visuals occupy an as-yet-unrealised netherworld between stop-motion and photo-realistic CGI. During the slower moments, the pieces move around with a charming rigidity and the horses, for example, are made to look like they’re being moved around by a child. Then everything undergoes a magical transformation when the action kicks in and the pieces start to move with a newfound fluidity. The screen absolutely fizzes with energy and the film’s set-pieces could match any modern action blockbuster. In addition to that, the inclusion of licensed characters means that this is the only time you’re ever going to see Batman, Superman, Dumbledore, Gandalf and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle together in a movie, so that’s a thrill in itself.
The cast are also excellent and the movie’s sense of fun really seems to have rubbed off on them, especially Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson who each give one of the most unpredictable and joyously wacky performances of their careers. Chris Pratt is also tremendously likable as the film’s protagonist, Emmet, and with Guardians of the Galaxy also hitting our screens this year, it may well end up being his time to shine. Then we have Will Ferrell who’s uncharacteristically fantastic as the big bad, President Business, and his performance is one of the reasons the daring framing narrative works.
The Lego Movie is one of those rare pieces of popcorn cinema that manages to appeal to absolutely everybody. The action’s electrifying, the script is witty and subversive, the voice-work is joyous and it’s all brought together in a tactfully-handled framing narrative. If you've ever needed an excuse to take the family out to the cinema during half-term, then this is it.